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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

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Is it that hard to remember the words? (Photo: TomPetty.com)
Is it that hard to remember the words? (Photo: TomPetty.com)

Does rock and roll really melt your brain?

The other night, I saw a commercial for a new TV show, which is actually a re-make of an older show called "Don't Forget the Lyrics." You can guess the premise: karaoke singers have to try to keep singing without a prompter and hilarity ensues.

Today, I saw this picture of Tom Petty on stage during his recent tour. In between the sound monitors, you see a teleprompter that presumably will keep him from being a contestant on "DFTL."

Bruce Springsteen, another one of my favorite artists, has been using prompters for years. I guess they are becoming the norm now. But, I have to wonder why.

I know these guys have written a ton of songs. When you play them night after night, you might get lost and jumble a verse or two. But, that's kind of what makes going to a concert such a cool experience.

Is this current trend just a nod to technology, or does fronting a band for decades fry the circuits in your brain and make it hard to remember your own poetry?

Anybody got any thoughts on this?

Talkbacks

littletinyfish | Oct. 8, 2010 at 12:54 p.m. (report)

35524 I saw a Bomb the Music Industry! concert where Jeff Rosenstock (the lead singer) skipped to the third verse and nobody but him noticed. He stopped and told us all what happened, went back and tried to do it again, but totally lost the second verse. Every time he started to play he would keep jumping to the third verse (and the audience kept singing along, regardless), stop and go back. Finally he just stood there for 30 seconds thinking about it until he figured it out, and played it correctly.

It wasn't a perfect show, but it was certainly memorable and amusing and perhaps better than just hearing a song sung exactly like the album.

That being said, it's probably not a good idea to screw up every song just to make things memorable.

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abluesboy | Oct. 8, 2010 at 12:07 p.m. (report)

you sit and write a song (songs) in the intimacies of your own time and space....then after travel,interviews ,cities,musicians,venues,lights,crowds, crowds noise, bad substitute drummers,years,life,fans,kids,cunts,critics,taxes, and........2..3...4..you're on........

now you have to remember the 3rd verse....

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Victrola | Oct. 8, 2010 at 9:06 a.m. (report)

I am a believer that there is only so much room in your brain. Everytime you file something in there, something has to go out. It may be the name of your seventh grade gym teacher, where you put your keys that morning or the lyrics to a song. The older you get, the larger your files are. I guess performers just dont want to have one of those moments in front of 20,000 people.

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poodiddles | Oct. 8, 2010 at 7:52 a.m. (report)

Doesn't it also potentially mean an end to spontaneity? Will a singer be as likely to riff on a verse and tinker with the words if he's reading along? Will the band be willing to rip into something not on the set list if the song won't be ready to roll on the prompter? Yet another reason to forgo the stadium gig and see a hungry young band in a club.

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onecoolmedic | Oct. 7, 2010 at 9:22 p.m. (report)

The reason is age, years of drinking and drugs, smoking can cause memory loss to.

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